CHICAGO (CBS) — Three police officers were injured while saving a teenager’s life during a house fire early Tuesday in north suburban Grayslake.
Firefighters responded at 12:34 a.m. to the home in the 300 block of Normandy Lane and found officers from the Grayslake Police Department in the process of rescuing a resident, according to the Grayslake Fire Protection District. CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli has more from the scene.
The officers are okay, but the teen remains in critical condition.
Neighbors said a grandmother and her two grandchildren live in the home. The grandmother and her granddaughter made it out safely on Tuesday morning when the fire broke, but the grandson did not.
The house by outward appearances seems to have sustained little damage, but that belies the drama that unfolded inside before dawn.
“We have a report of heavy smoke from the house, and a child in the home in an upstairs room that is not responding to subjects yelling to him and no one has been upstairs to get the child.”
That drama was captured on Grayslake Police radio.
“PD on scene are saying airbags will be needed immediately. They cannot get in the home due to heavy smoke, but they can hear the child.”
The three officers who answered the call for help could not get in the split level house, but were not about about to stop trying.
“It was fairly difficult because they could not see anything when they went inside,” said Grayslake Police Department Chief Phil Perlini. “There was very thick smoke. Three officers went to the hospital with smoke inhalation.”
The smoke was so thick the officers got on their stomachs and crawled to the upstairs room working as a team.
“One went as far as he thought he could go and the next one went up and finally reached the top of the stairs, felt the victim, and then pulled him out,” Perlini said.
Sergeant Joe Holtz isn’t surprised that his colleagues put themselves on the line in the smoke-filled Normandy Lane house.
“The first attempt was pretty tough and then they decided they were going to go in and see what they could do,” Holtz said.
The 17-year-old boy was alive when he was pulled outside the front door.
“There was some moaning and groaning – I’m not sure what his level of consciousness was at the time,” Perlini said.
He was rushed to a local hospital before being transferred to the burn unit at Loyola in critical condition.
Neighbors are just hoping the teen pulls through.
Two of the police officers were treated and released. The third is being held for observation.
So far investigators think the fire may have been triggered by a dyer vent which sparked behind some drywall.
The Grayslake Fire Protection District is investigating the fire with assistance from the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office.